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Beautiful Montessori Classrooms - Around the World (Part Three)

Toddler Water Activities - by I Can Do It Montessori!

Today we have Rochelle from I Can Do It Montessori presenting some toddler water activities. Rochelle is an experienced Montessori guide. I love taking a peek into her classroom. These are more than play activities they are valuable, practical life experiences. All photographs are from Rochelle's Montessori toddler community but you will find lots of ideas and inspiration for the home. I really love the way Rochelle describes the activities and the role of the parent/guide. There are many take home messages here. Thank you to Rochelle for the following post! 

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For all these activities you'll need a water source that's easily accessible for your child. I use a glass beverage dispenser with a push-down tap (easy to find on Amazon).

I Can Do It Montessori - Water Source

You'll also need a low table and chair, and a low shelf or unit to store everything clearly.

I Can Do It Montessori - Storage Unit

Here are the most important points to remember when presenting activities to your child:

  1. Activities for toddlers are generally a collaboration between you and your child. Although they may need your support, please remember that mess is a great opportunity for development!
  2. Try not to step in before your child's had a go at clearing up. A water spill invites your child to use problem-solving skills to find a solution. Children take longer to think through the options available so stay back and observe to see what's happening. If they walk away then you can step in to help them clear up. But always wait first and let them try before you offer any help.
  3. In my training, our teachers told us to "Sit on your hands" when we felt we should step in and help. Sometimes it's so difficult to trust that your child will find a solution independently. Maybe they will and maybe they won't, but wait a few moments to see what happens.
  4. By letting your child discover solutions for themselves you are allowing them to build self-esteem (self-belief) and logical thinking skills (common sense) to aid them through their whole life. Everything that follows is built on what your child experiences in their first 3 years of life.
  5. If there is a breakage, the most important thing is not to panic. Calmly move your child to a safe distance and put all the broken pieces in newspaper and into the bin. Hoover up the whole area and then resume the activity. Please don't feel you have to make a big issue out of it - your child will have watched everything and make their own decision to be careful next time.
  6. Carry one object at a time because your child is still developing motor control skills.
  7. Slow all your movements right down - much slower than you think would be necessary. This allows your child to watch each movement carefully and discover how to imitate you accurately.
  8. A great question to ask yourself is "Is this dangerous, harmful or hurtful?". If the answer is no, you can stand back and observe before stepping in to help.
  9. It's a great idea to name everything you'll be using. This extends your child's vocabulary (even if they aren't talking yet) and they'll have many more words to express themselves once they start speaking.
  10. Finally, encourage your child to repeat activities as many times as they like. Repetition is the basis for concentration. Model the behaviour you want them to emulate - show how you repeat things a few times before putting them away (e.g. reading a book, doing a puzzle, singing songs). Also, show how you finish a whole cycle of activity (e.g. emptying the dishwasher so everything is put away, taking out a puzzle and putting it away afterwards, having meals and clearing away afterwards).


Water Activity Ideas:

    1. Serving drinks

I Can Do It Montessori - Serving Drinks

This is a brilliant activity for even the youngest toddler. They love being allowed to pour their own drink many times and use a real cup - sometimes this activity lasts about half an hour! Preschoolers can pour drinks to serve to friends and family.

You will need:

  • A plastic or melamine tray
  • A tiny milk jug
  • A tiny glass (ours is a shot glass from Amy's Hardware)
  • A face cloth for drying up
  • A large towel nearby in case of larger spills
  • A tabard apron
  • A 1m square piece of lino to cover the floor underneath the table

How to present this to your child:

  1. Keep everything accessible (on the tray) on a low shelf.
  2. Name all the objects you can see.
  3. Encourage your child to put on the apron and carry the tray to the table.
  4. Show your child how to do the activity: fill the jug with only as much water as will fit in the glass and put it down on the tray; sit down and carefully pour the water into the glass; hold the glass with both hands and drink the water; dry any spills.
  5. Invite your child to do all these steps independently as many times as they like.
  6. When they've finished, they can carry the used glass and jug to the sink or dishwasher. The tray goes back on the shelf. The wet cloth can be hung up to dry or put straight into the washing machine.

 

    2. Scrubbing furniture

I Can Do It Montessori - Table Scrubbing

This is the perfect water activity if you want something quick and easy.

You will need:

  • A small scrubbing brush (with washing-up liquid inside if possible, or tiny amount of liquid squeezed directly on to the brush bristles)
  • A small piece of sponge (cut an adult-sized sponge in half)
  • A face cloth for drying up
  • A plastic container to store everything in
  • A tabard apron
  • A 1m square piece of lino to cover the floor underneath the object being washed

How to present this to your child:

  1. Keep everything accessible (in the container) on a low shelf
  2. Name all the objects you can see.
  3. Choose something to clean (e.g. a table, chair, stool or empty shelf)
  4. Encourage your child to put on the apron and carry the container to the object you'll be cleaning.
  5. Show your child how to do the activity: use the scrubbing brush to clean and make lots of bubbles; wipe off with the sponge; dry with the towel.
  6. Make slow, small and large circular movements with the brush; left to right with the sponge.
  7. Invite your child to do all these steps independently as many times as they like and clean as many objects as they want to.
  8. When they've finished, everything goes back in the container and on the shelf again. The wet cloth can be hung up to dry or put straight into the washing machine.

 

    3. Spray cleaning

I Can Do It Montessori - Spray Cleaning

The children love using a spray bottle! It's important to remind them before the activity starts that we only spray the windows or mirrors. Set a clear limit: if they spray people, walls or other furniture we'll have to put it away. Give them one chance and then put it away - show they can trust you mean what you say.

You will need:

  • A small spray bottle filled with water
  • A small squeegee (ours is from Lakeland)
  • A face cloth for drying up
  • A plastic container to store everything in
  • A large towel nearby in case of larger spills
  • A tabard apron

How to present this to your child:

  1. Keep everything accessible (in the container) on a low shelf.
  2. Name all the objects you can see.
  3. Choose something to clean (e.g. a low mirror or windows)
  4. Encourage your child to put on the apron and carry the container to the area you'll be cleaning.
  5. Show your child how to do the activity: spray water all over the glass; use the squeegee to slowly draw all the water down to the bottom; dry the bottom with the towel.
  6. Invite your child to do all these steps independently as many times as they like and clean as many areas as they want to.
  7. They may want to spray everything many times before using the squeegee or towel. That's ok as long as you ensure the water is all dried up at the end.
  8. When they've finished, everything goes back in the container and on the shelf again. The wet cloth can be hung up to dry or put straight into the washing machine.

    

    4. Flower arranging (simple = toddlers 1-3 years, advanced = preschoolers 3-6 years)

I Can Do It Montessori - Flower Arranging

This is one of the children's favourite activities because flowers are so pretty and, of course, there's water involved! I usually find tiny vases and jugs in charity shops, discount shops or eBay.

You will need:

  • 4 - 6 tiny little vases (made from glass or another breakable material)
  • A tiny jug
  • A tiny funnel
  • A basket with high sides (so it's easy to carry from the shelf to a table) to store everything except the flowers
  • A face cloth for drying hands and small spills
  • A large towel nearby in case of larger spills
  • A bucket to pour used water in
  • A tabard apron
  • A 1m square piece of lino to cover the floor underneath the table
  • A basket of cut flowers (1-3s)
  • Or a bouquet of flowers and small scissors (3-6s)

How to present this to your child:

Simple version:

  1. Keep everything accessible (in the baskets) on a low shelf.
  2. Name all the objects you can see.
  3. Encourage your child to put on the apron and carry one basket to a table while you carry the other one.
  4. Arrange the objects in a logical order: left to right, top to bottom (e.g. place the jug and funnel on the left side of the table; vases in a line in the middle; towel on the right).
  5. Show your child how to do the activity: carry the jug and get water; take it back and pour the water through the funnel into a vase; place a flower in the vase; wipe up a spill if there is one.
  6. Invite your child to do all these steps independently as many times as they like
  7. Stand nearby but don't interrupt if you can stand it! You can help wipe up spills at the end..
  8. When all the vases have been filled you could carry them to various places around the house to make it look extra pretty!
  9. Or your child might want to tidy all the flowers up and pour the water back into the bucket. Then they can carry the bucket to the sink (or outside to water the plants) and tip out.
  10. Finally, all the vases need to go back into the basket and everything goes back on the shelf. The wet cloth can be hung up to dry or put straight into the washing machine.

Advanced prep version:

  1. Take the scissors and bouquet of flowers to the table.
  2. Show your child how to cut a flower stem and place it in the basket.
  3. Invite your child to cut all the flower stems and then put the leftover leaves into the bin.
  4. Then begin the main activity using the flowers your child has prepared.


    5. Washing hands (at a table)

I Can Do It Montessori - Hand washing

Children love to wash their hands over and over, but some parents worry this is a sign of OCD. There's no need to worry - young children love repeating all kinds of activities and this is one of the most popular!

We use a bar soap instead of a liquid because it offers another opportunity for your child to develop their hand coordination. You can buy small soaps online or cut a standard bar soap into 6-8 small pieces.

You will need:

  • A small to medium sized bowl
  • A small jug
  • A soapdish
  • A small bar soap
  • A face cloth for drying hands and small spills
  • A large towel nearby in case of larger spills
  • A bucket to pour used water in
  • A tabard apron
  • A 1m square piece of lino to cover the floor underneath the table

How to present this to your child:

  1. Keep everything accessible (in the baskets) on a low shelf, with the bucket nearby.
  2. Name all the objects you can see.
  3. Encourage your child to put on the apron and carry one item at a time to the table.
  4. Arrange the objects in a logical order: left to right, top to bottom (e.g. place the soap in the soapdish on the left side of the table; bowl in the middle; jug and towel on the right).
  5. Show your child how to do the activity: carry the jug and get water; fill it halfway; carry it back to the table; wash your hands slowly (show your child how you clean your palms, the backs of your hands, and each finger in turn).
  6. Try to make each of your movements slow and careful so your child can watch you closely.
  7. Rinse and dry your hands then pour the used water carefully into the bucket and carry it outside or to the sink.
  8. Invite your child to do all these steps independently as many times as they like
  9. Don't worry about water splashes. - let your child enjoy the experience for as long as they like!
  10. When they've finished, help them dry everything and put it all back on the shelf. The wet cloth can be hung up to dry or put straight into the washing machine.

 

     6. Washing up (at a table)

I Can Do It Montessori - Washing Up

This is a simple way of letting your child wash up without worrying about breakages because we only wash one object at a time.

Children love squeezing bottles and it would be so easy to use up a whole bottle of washing up liquid in one go! To avoid this, find a tiny bottle and only put a tiny amount of liquid in it. You can refill as needed.

You will need:

  • 2 small to medium sized bowls
  • A small jug
  • A tiny bottle with a tiny amount of washing up liquid in
  • A small piece of sponge (cut an adult-sized sponge in half) or tiny washing up brush
  • A drying rack
  • A tray of objects to wash
  • A face cloth for drying hands and small spills
  • A large towel nearby in case of larger spills
  • A bucket to pour used water in
  • A tabard apron
  • A 1m square piece of lino to cover the floor underneath the table

How to present this to your child:

  1. Keep everything accessible (in the baskets) on a low shelf, with the bucket nearby.
  2. Name all the objects you can see.
  3. Encourage your child to put on the apron and carry one item at a time to the table.
  4. Arrange the objects in a logical order: left to right, top to bottom (e.g. place the rack at the back of the table; jug, liquid and sponge on the left; bowls in the middle; towel on the right).
  5. Keep the tray of objects for washing next to the table.
  6. Show your child how to do the activity: carry the jug and get water to fill both the bowls halfway; squeeze the washing-up liquid into the left hand bowl; choose an object and wash it slowly; rinse it in the right hand bowl; place it on the drainer).
  7. Invite your child to do all these steps independently as many times as they like
  8. Don't worry about water splashes. - let your child enjoy the experience for as long as they like!
  9. Show your child how to pour the used water carefully into the bucket and carry it outside or to the sink.
  10. When they've finished, help them dry everything and put it all back on the shelf. The wet cloth can be hung up to dry or put straight into the washing machine.

 

About Rochelle:

Parenting Expert

Rochelle Cutler is a double-qualified AMI Montessori teacher with over 12 years teaching experience and over 20 years nannying experience. She runs I Can Do It Montessori, providing baby groups, toddler classes, parenting classes and parent workshops in Enfield, home tutoring in North London, and 121 family support in London and the South East of England, UK.

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